Interview with Luca Bracali

Camera: X-Pro1 Lens: XF14mm F2.8R Exposure: 1/30sec  at F4, ISO 1600
Camera: X-Pro1 – Lens: XF14mm F2.8R
Exposure: 1/30sec at F4, ISO 1600

Renowned photographer Luca Bracali likes to travel light – and he finds X-series cameras perfectly suited to his nomadic lifestyle

Based in the tiny city of Pistoia in Tuscany, Luca Bracali is a man with a mission and international reach. Now aged 48, he’s spent the last 25 years of his life shooting, filming and documenting our planet in all its glory, and often works up to 15 hours a day. His obsession with travel is so consuming that it extends to his family: when his youngest daughter was ten years old she’d already visited 30 countries, accompanying her father as he captured images of every sort of creature from lions on the savannah to bears in the American wilderness.

Taking his first black & white photo at just six years old, Luca has always been creative, bursting with ideas since he was a child – but a gift of a 50mm F1.2 lens from a photography professor got him hooked. After high school, Luca started work as a photojournalist following car and motorcycle events. “My first assignment was a motocross race,” he laughs, “and I still remember the words of my director who told me: ‘Luca – not so bad, but to get a good picture out of your roll we need to stitch together two frames: one for the front wheels, the other one for the back wheels…’”

Camera: X-Pro1 LENS: XF14mm F2.8 R Exposure: 30secs  at F4, ISO 640
Camera: X-Pro1 – Lens: XF14mm F2.8 R
Exposure: 30secs at F4, ISO 640

Renaissance man

While learning the ropes Luca drew inspiration from the great Renaissance painters, studying their mastery of light and form and combining this with the attention to detail and observation that the young photographer learned from his father. “Caravaggio was the great master of light,” he says. “The challenge for me now is discovering something new or looking at something in a different way – perhaps from an eye-catching perspective, or using the evocative and hidden brushstrokes of light.”

Luca earned his stripes as a motorsport photographer, then moved onto fashion and beauty before discovering that travel reportage was his real passion. Since then he’s published three books (with a fourth on the way soon), won four international photo prizes and had nearly 20 exhibitions of his work in museums and galleries. “A few years ago I was employed by Rai 1 (a major Italian TV network) as a director – and the environment, nature and the Arctic region are my main topics,” he says.

Nowadays Luca’s motivation is to travel across the planet to “discover its infinite beauty and using the power of photography to wake up people’s consciences.” The photographer is passionate about conservation, and his wide-ranging portfolio is testament to his self-appointed mission.

Camera: X-Pro1 LENS: XF14mm F2.8 R Exposure: 1/500sec  at F10, ISO 200
Camera: X-Pro1 – Lens: XF14mm F2.8 R
Exposure: 1/500sec at F10, ISO 200

Travelling light

Luca travels with such frequency that he’s away from home at least once a month, and the Fujifilm X-Pro1 has found a place in his camera bag. In fact, it was his nomadic lifestyle which first attracted the photographer to the Fujifilm X-Pro series of cameras. “With the new airline regulations you cannot travel carrying so many kilos,” he said, “but I still needed quality.” Luca is self-described as picky, and prior to switching he was on the lookout for a mirrorless camera that fulfilled the following criteria. “It had to be lightweight, with a sensor and an algorithm able to produce hi-res and quality images comparable to the best reflex camera and, in some cases, maybe even better,” he said, so the X-Pro1’s class-beating performance was an ideal choice. Luca was also impressed by the camera’s workings, and found an emotive link to the cameras and pictures of his earlier years. “The camera’s X-Trans sensor with unconventional array gives me the pathos of film photography with more depth of colour shades and reduces the moiré effect,” he continued. “Also, the Velvia style picture that’s selectable by the Q-button interface is one of my favourite custom colour settings – it reminds me of the vivid and bright tones of the film I preferred and used until 2003.”

Though the X-Pro1 is Luca’s camera of choice, he’s also had an advance look at the new X-E2. “I found it a really surprising camera,” he says. “There are a lot of very interesting features: the first one that comes to my mind is the panoramic setting. You can take a superb 180° picture, which saves a lot of time in post-production. It also enables the image stabiliser function during video shooting, and the buffer is large and fast enough to let you take burst pictures easily.”

Camera: X-Pro1 Lens: XF18-55mm Exposure: 1/125sec  at F11, ISO 200
Camera: X-Pro1 – Lens: XF18-55mm
Exposure: 1/125sec at F11, ISO 200

Telling a story

During Luca’s many adventures he’s famously travelled to every continent and used nearly every form of transport, so asking him to select a single shoot that stands out from the rest is – as he puts it – “like asking a mother of ten children: ‘Which is the best?’” Luca is fond of all his images, but singles out a shot taken in the northern-most territory of Canada as perhaps one of the most memorable. “I waited for almost six hours at -11°C standing with my nose and fingers frostbitten until that little snowy cub woke up,” he said. “The interaction between mother bear and pup lasted only five seconds but that shot, of one of the most endangered animals on earth and the icon of a slowly vanishing world, was really worth all the sacrifice.”

Despite Luca’s abilities at seemingly all genres of photography, there’s a few he’s not so keen on.

“Wedding and still-life photography are not my favourite genres,” he says. “I like catching people in the most natural way and showing their real expressions, motion and lifestyle – and in my experience, weddings are the opposite. Still-life images are also anything but natural: you don’t get to play with natural light, searching for it where a second can be different from the previous one. When you’re in a studio with good technical knowledge and equipment, you can almost make miracles happen!”

Camera: X-Pro1 Lens: XF14mm F2.8R Exposure: 18secs  at F2.8, ISO 3200
Camera: X-Pro1 – Lens: XF14mm F2.8R
Exposure: 18secs at F2.8, ISO 3200

Luca’s advice for those keen for a life as a travel photographer acknowledges the difficulties that lie ahead – but it’s not impossible. “Unfortunately this sector has become very challenging, due to the high cost of travelling and the fact that almost everything has already been seen and photographed,” he admits. “The only way to work now is having a great idea and creating a project which stands up alone – or having a partner or sponsor to cover your travel expenses.”

Besides taking great pictures, Luca suggests that new photojournalists and documentary makers remember that the story is of equal importance to the shots themselves. “Beautiful pictures are too easily taken,” he says. “The story makes the difference and your work unique, impossible to buy from a stock agency that’s full of tons of beautiful single shots.”

With most of the world under his belt already, what could possibly be next for this adventurous photographer? “Everything – I don’t know – it’s something I’m also keen to discover,” he says excitedly, before packing his bags and heading off to the USA, Fujifilm X-Pro1 in hand, to capture new documentary work in the country’s national parks. He’ll also be blogging this new experience for Fujifilm, so keep your eyes on their Facebook page and watch this space…

Visit Luca Bracali’s website here

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Guest post: Fujifilm X Series with flash Part 3 – Multiple flashes with radio triggers

By Derek Clark

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In this third and final part of The Fuji X Series With Flash I’ll be looking at using multiple flash guns and radio triggers with the X Series cameras. You can use any make of flash for this as the radio triggers are only telling the flash to fire. There’s no information about exposure or anything else, it simply triggers the flash.

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There are many different radio triggers available, but by far the most popular are the Pocket Wizards. I came from a Nikon flash setup and worked with the SU800 Commander unit, and because of this I never owned any radio triggers. But after buying into the Fuji X System I realised that my trusty SU800 would not be usable. The Pocket Wizard Plus III’s had just came out, but were expensive for a multiple flash setup. Pocket Wizard’s also don’t have hotshoes for mounting the guns directly on to them. Instead the work with cables. My older SB800’s have sync ports, but my newer SB700’s don’t (I replaced my SB900’s with SB700’s due to the overheating problem and so glad I did). In the end I decided to go for the Flashwave III system because they were reasonably priced, had both sync and Pocket Wizard size ports and most importantly the receivers have hotshoes. They come with a great verity of cables and adaptors that so far have coped with everything. The receivers have a tripod mount on the bottom, but also come with adaptors to change them into hotshoe mountable. So the flash mounts on top of the receiver and the receiver to the shoe on the light stand.

The transmitter’s are tiny and even look small on the X-M1. They include a test fire button and have a choice of 16 channels via small dip switches on both transmitters and receivers. An X-E1 or X-E2 can also be fired remotely by attaching a Flashwave III receiver to the microphone input on the side of the camera and triggering it using the test button on the transmitter. I’ve used this setup when doing long exposures instead of a cable release.

Lighting doesn’t come any more basic than a radio trigger setup. Lights are all set to manual and you adjust power settings on each one individually. I use anything from one light to six lights, but I only have four receivers. If I need more than four lights I set the extra guns to slave mode. The radio triggers fire one set and the extra guns are triggered by the flashes.

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I wanted to shoot some fresh portraits for this post and I’ve been meaning to do some up to date shots of my kids. So excuse the self indulgence, but if you’re from a modeling agency…they are available:o). I shot these using Nikon Flashguns and Flashwave III radio Triggers. As you can see from the photo above, I used a Lastolite Hilite background. The Hilite works well with two flash guns inside, tilting upward and back to blow the background to pure white. I also use the Lastolite Superwhite Vinyl Train and a piece of thick toughened glass for a reflection. For this shoot I used a Lastolite Hotrod Strip Softbox which is a fantastic modifier for the money. Some of these shots were with one light, some are with three. I used the X-Pro1 and the X-E1 with the 35mm f1.4 and the 60mm f2.4.

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Thank you for reading this series and I really hope you found it useful. Flash with the X cameras seems to be a mystery to a lot of people that are moving over from DSLR’s, so I thought this series of posts would help to clear up a few of the common questions.

About Derek

Derek Clark is an award winning Documentary Photographer and a member of The Kage Collective, an international group of documentary photographers that are committed to telling stories with a camera. To see more of his work you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter or you can  follow his blog.
This blog post was taken, with permission, from Derek’s blog. You can see the original post here.

Guest post: Fujifilm X Series with flash Part 2 – Off camera TTL

By Derek Clark

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What is TTL?
I’ll start part 2 (part 1 is HERE) by describing what TTL actually is. Feel free to skip this part if you already know this.

8Back in the good old film days a lot of flash guns had a small calculator in the form of a chart or a small disk that rotated. These things basically calculated what setting worked for the Guide Number of the flash you were using. I had a Vivitar 283 back in the early 80′s, which was one of the most popular and reliable guns of it’s time. It had a dial built into the hinge of the bounce head (photo left). You set the dial to whatever ASA/Din number your film was (now called ISO) and the dial told you what distance you would cover with the varies apertures. The coloured sections corresponded to a dial on the front of the camera. It all goes a bit hazy after that…it was a long time ago. But I do remember having a cable that plugged into the front of the gun to use it off the camera.

Fast forward to today and we have much more sophisticated flashes that talk to the camera and vice versa. The camera takes it’s exposure reading through the lens (TTL) and tells the flash the information it needs to know. The flash then works out how much power it needs to put out to achieve a good exposure. The flash gun can also let you know via it’s display if the right exposure was obtained.

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What TTL Cable Works With The X Series
If you want to do off camera TTL photography with your X Series camera, you will need an EF-42, EF-20 or an EF-X20 and a TTL suitable for a Canon (usually called ETTL in Canon speak). The Canon hotshoe pins match the Fuji ones and allow TTL flash with a Fuji X camera. Nikon has a different pin arrangement and definitely won’t work in TTL. Remember to turn off both camera and flash when attaching a TTL cord as the contacts are sliding into position and could short out. I’ve never been a Canon shooter so I don’t have access to their flash guns and I can’t say if an X camera and Canon flash can speak to each other and work in TTL harmony. Nikon guns do not work in TTL. Nikon flashguns will work on an X series camera in Manual or Automatic, but not in TTL. If used on an X camera’s hotshoe or with a TTL cord, A Nikon flash is only being told by the camera to fire – exposure settings are up to you the photographer. The flash must be set to Manual (not TTL) or it won’t fire.

The Pixel FC-311/S TTL Flashgun Cable
Canon’s own ETTL cords will be great for the job, but they do tend to be a bit spendy. I bought the Pixel FC-311/S 1.8m cable (for Canon) from Amazon UK for £17 and it works fine. A really nice feature with this cable is that it has both a tripod mount and a cold shoe for attaching it to a light stand. This could come in really handy (although a longer cable might be better for using on a light stand). I’m using an SB700 soft case to hold the Fuji EF-42 and the TTL cable and there’s even space for a plastic foot too.

Hand Holding For Off Camera Flash
Obviously if you are doing off camera flash without the use of a stand or tripod, you have to be careful of camera shake as you’ll be holding the camera with one hand. Thankfully X cameras are great for hand holding due to their size, weight and the lack of a mirror popping up and down. But having a good solid grip and steadying technique is very important. In the photo below you will see the grip I use. By holding the flash in the left hand and crossing it over to the right, you can rest the camera on the left shoulder, the flash can be stretched out as far to the right as you like, as long as it’s pointing in the right direction a bit of shake won’t make any difference. If your TTL cord has a hotshoe or tripod mount at the flash end (Like the Pixel cord), you could easily use a handle. Lastolite do an extending Handle and a Brolly Bracket.

The left shoulder supports the camera and reduces shake.
The left shoulder supports the camera and reduces shake.

So that’s off camera TTL, what you do with it after that is up to you. There are some interesting accessories available like the Rogue Flashbenders to spread or direct the light, or Rogue Grid to focus it exactly where you want without light spilling all over the place, which is a must if you have a coloured gel on the background. The possibilities are vast and a lot of fun.

About Derek

Derek Clark is an award winning Documentary Photographer and a member of The Kage Collective, an international group of documentary photographers that are committed to telling stories with a camera. To see more of his work you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter or you can  follow his blog.
This blog post was taken, with permission, from Derek’s blog. You can see the original post here.

Guest post: Fujifilm X Series with flash Part 1 – The EF-42 TTL Flashgun

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By Derek Clark

This is part one of a three part series on using flash the Fuji X Series. This part is a review of the EF-42 flash and this will be followed by “Part 2 : TTL Off Camera TTL” and then ending with “Part 3 : Using Multiple Flashes With Radio Triggers”.

I often get emails asking about using Flash with the Fuji X Series. Mostly the questions are about using TTL, Nikon or Canon Flashguns or the Nikon SU800 Commander with the X series. Another big question is – Can an off camera TTL cord be used and if so, which one? So I thought I’d take a fresh look at using Fuji X cameras with flash. My friend John a commercial photographer and he’s really tempted by the X-Pro1, but he uses flash most of the time and isn’t sure if the X system is up for it. I have a job at the end of this week that might need flash due to the time of day in January and a dark venue. There won’t be time to use one of my Nikon guns in manual mode with a radio trigger, so TTL will be a must. This all added up to a good excuse to pick up a Fuji EF-42 TTL Flash and give it a blast.

FUJIFILM EF-42 TTL FLASH
The EF-42 is basically a Sunpak PZ42X with a jacket on (the EF-20 is also a Sunpak model). It’s not as well made as a Nikon or Canon flash gun, but at half the price, it’s good enough. When you mount the flash on the camera and switch it on, autofocus won’t work until the flash charges and the Test/Charge light is illuminated and like a kettle boiling, it seems to take a long time when you’re watching it. But when it’s lit there’s no problem and everything works as it should after that. But I would rather take a shot without the flash firing than miss the shot as it could maybe be recovered in Lightroom with a bit of exposure and a possible conversion to black and white.

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Minimalist controls on the rear
Minimalist controls on the rear

The back panel on the EF-42 is minimalist compared to a Nikon or Canon unit, with buttons for Mode, Select, On/Off and Test. It’s certainly easy to understand how the controls work, which is a breath of fresh air if you have ever used an SB800 at any point. But it would be nice to have dedicated a couple of buttons for -EV & +EV, as there’s too many button presses to move up and then down EV. TTL works well and the handy pop-out wide angle lens is useful. I think it’s a bit mean not to include a dome diffuser or a foot/stand, but I picked up a diffuser from eBay and I had a spare Nikon foot. A Nikon SB600 Dome Diffuser will fit, but it’s very tight and once attached it would be a good idea to leave it in place. A soft case would also have been a welcome addition, but I have a solution for that in Part 2. The hotshoe mount at the bottom of the flash is plastic and looks cheap, plus a switch style lock would have been preferred over a screw down plate.

I would recommend buying a Dome diffuser as the bare flash can be a bit harsh. With the diffuser attached and the flash head tilted up you will get great soft and even light that can fill a small room without any problem. You can find a suitable diffuser on Ebay for very little money. There are even packs of three available (one white and two coloured) that allow balancing the colour of the light from the flash with the room (I prefer gels).

In conclusion, the EF-42 does the job well, but could be a bit better on the built quality front. I think if Fujifilm had made this flash from the ground up, it would have been a much higher quality unit. Now that the X Series lenses are plentiful (almost), it would be nice if Fuji could dedicate a little time to develop a flash system on a par with Nikon’s CLS system, but with built in radio instead of infrared and a dedicated commander unit that allows the user to set the power on multiple flashes without moving from camera position. A dedicated flash system is about the only thing the X Series is lacking now.

So that’s the EF-42. Stick it on the camera, set it to TTL and you’ll get a pretty decent job. But a flash on a camera hot shoe is not the best look for your pictures. The shots look flat, lifeless and can make ugly shadows in the background. So in Part 2 we will look at getting the flash off the camera using a TTL cord and what cord will work with the Fuji X range.

The EF-42 is available on Amazon UK for £155

About Derek

Derek Clark is an award winning Documentary Photographer and a member of The Kage Collective, an international group of documentary photographers that are committed to telling stories with a camera. To see more of his work you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter or you can  follow his blog.
This blog post was taken, with permission, from Derek’s blog. You can see the original post here.

Fujifilm X Magazine – Issue 2 reader images 1/3

X-series users from across the globe share their finest images and the stories behind them

Here’s a selection of users’ images published in our Fujifilm X Magazine. If you would like to see your images in our magazine, and if you’re an X-series user, we’d love to see your shots. Email your images, along with details of the story behind them and some information about you and your photography to: xmagazine@bright-publishing.com

Ken Ratcliffe – Relaxing in the park

Technical details Camera: X100 Lens: 23mm fixed Exposure: 1/25sec at F2, ISO 6400 and Hoya R72 filter
Camera: X100 – Lens: 23mm fixed
Exposure: 1/25sec at F2, ISO 6400 and Hoya R72 filter

“I live in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, and photography has been one of my hobbies for about 30 years. I took this shot at Blenheim Gardens, in Minehead in Somerset. I take all my infrared images hand-held, with no tripod – the fixed lens/sensor/ viewfinder combination on the X100 allows you to use it like this with the Hoya filter.

“I’ve been shooting with digital for the last seven years, and the Fujifilm X100 has been my best purchase  –  pound for pound, it’s the best camera on the market. It’s so adaptable and versatile, yet easy to carry, and you get super image quality. My best piece of photography advice would be to always have your camera with you – it’s when you’re not expecting it that the best images happen.”

Willy Verhulst – Belgium

Technical details Camera: X-Pro1 Lens: XF 18-55mm Exposure: 1/1000sec at F8, ISO 640
Camera: X-Pro1 – Lens: XF 18-55mm
Exposure: 1/1000sec at F8, ISO 640

“This image was taken early one morning in the Ardennes region. 
I like to be at one with nature and try to create atmospheric images, which I think I managed here. Doing this generally means paying particular attention to how the light is falling on a scene.

“I’m 59 years old and have been taking photographs since I was around 12. I’ve had several exhibitions, but now I simply enjoy taking photographs while I’m traveling. The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is perfect for this – it’s light enough to be carried all day and delivers brilliant results.”

SEE MORE OF WILLY’S WORK HERE 

 

X Marks The Spot: London, UK

One photographer, one Fujifilm X-series camera, a whole lot of great images

Rob MitchellX-series cameras are perfect for street photographers. Combining light weight and portability with fantastic performance and a great range of lenses makes them the perfect combination for shooting on the move. Rob Mitchell is a commercial photographer and X-Pro1 user based in Belgium, but he took these shots on a dedicated day of street photography in the Shoreditch area of London. Along with his friends, who were also shooting with X-series cameras, Rob used the X-Pro1 along with 18mm and 35mm lenses and most of his pictures were shot from the hip in a true documentary style. Continue reading to find out why the X-Pro1 was a perfect companion for a walk around London.

MARKET STALL NEAR COVENT GARDEN

Lens: XF18mm F2 R Exposure: 1/30sec at F2, ISO 800
Lens: XF18mm F2 R
Exposure: 1/30sec at F2, ISO 800

“This was just a passing snapshot of the market stall. With the combination of low light and large contrast range, I didn’t expect for one moment that the X-Pro1 would deliver a good shot, but it did. This was taken at ISO 800 with the 18mm lens at its widest aperture of F2. This helped me to get a fast enough shutter speed to successfully hand-hold the shot, and the X-Trans sensor took care of the rest. A truly impressive result with digital noise virtually non-existent.”

MIND THE GAP

X-Pro1 - Lens: XF35mm F1.4 R Exposure: 1/900sec at F1.4, ISO 400
X-Pro1 – Lens: XF35mm F1.4 R
Exposure: 1/900sec at F1.4, ISO 400

“Anyone who has travelled on the London Underground will know that the ‘Mind the Gap’ slogan is everywhere. I don’t remember the exact station that it was taken, but it was on the way from Epping to Liverpool Street. This was a real shot from the hip, which the X-Pro1 is perfect at. The train pulled into the station and as the doors opened, I saw the opportunity to grab this image. Using the rear LCD, auto exposure and rapid focusing, I was able to compose and get this perfectly exposed image before the doors closed again. I don’t think I would have had the time to capture this with a DSLR.”

MAN ON PHONE

X-Pro1 - Lens: XF18mm F2 R Exposure:  1/500sec at F2, ISO 400
X-Pro1 – Lens: XF18mm F2 R
Exposure: 1/500sec at F2, ISO 400

“The X-Pro1 is very subtle in use, a DSLR is just too imposing and I simply wouldn’t have been able to get this shot. As I walked past this man in Shoreditch, I had the camera hanging over my shoulder, so I just held it in position and fired off this image without lifting it to my eye or looking through the viewfinder. Although the man is looking at me, I’m pretty sure he didn’t know he was having his picture taken. With the 18mm, you can easily approximate the focusing point and with such a large depth-of-field I could shoot at F2 and still be confident that almost all of the image would stay in sharp focus.”

THE ORANGE BUFFALO

X-Pro1 - Lens: XF18mm F2 R Exposure: 1/210sec at F2, ISO 400
X-Pro1 – Lens: XF18mm F2 R
Exposure: 1/210sec at F2, ISO 400

“Taken at the Truman Brewery car park in Shoreditch, this is a sort of mismatch of the US and London. An Airstream caravan, Chevy truck and Buffalo Wings stuck in a rather hip area of town with just the sole client. The four picnic tables would suggest it gets busy there – not at that moment though. What I’ve noticed with the X-series is that I experiment more; I feel less constrained and if I only have a 18mm lens on the camera I just work around that. I could say it’s almost like going back to the roots of innocent experimentation and the discovery of photography.”

PUSHCHAIR, ELDER STREET

X-Pro1 - Lens: XF18mm F2 R Exposure: 1/14sec at F2, ISO 200
X-Pro1 – Lens: XF18mm F2 R
Exposure: 1/14sec at F2, ISO 200

“Typically anonymous flats are made up of a pattern of window-door-window-door. I spotted this pushchair in front of one and thought that it broke up the pattern to give a glimpse into the lives of the people who live there. I love the Fujifilm image quality – the fact that I still own and use my old Fujifilm S3 Pro is testament to that fact. The X-Trans sensor in the X-Pro1 certainly hasn’t lost any of the quality of colour accuracy of that older DSLR – I’ve already used it on a couple of commercial projects.”

COFFEE SHOP WINDOW

X-Pro1 - Lens: XF35mm F1.4 R Exposure: 1/550sec at F1.4, ISO 200
X-Pro1 – Lens: XF35mm F1.4 R
Exposure: 1/550sec at F1.4, ISO 200

“This was shot from inside a coffee shop, overlooking Pancras road – I deliberately wanted to get an obscured portrait of someone sitting outside, complete with an iconic London symbol in the background. The X-Pro1’s metering and sensor have combined to get a great result here. With the large shadow area in the foreground, I expected the camera to overexpose the main subject, but it’s dealt with the contrast well and got detail in both the dark and light areas.”

About Robert

Robert Mitchell is a British commercial photographer based in Belgium. To see more of his work you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook or follow his blog.

What to shoot now – A Winter Wonderland

Christmas may be over, but there are still plenty of subjects and techniques to keep you and your X-series camera busy.

footprints in snow and tree

Winter wonderland

The days may be shorter and the temperatures lower, but there’s no denying that the winter months are a very photogenic time of year. Hopefully, we’ll get a good fall of snow over the next few weeks, which means great photos are to be had.

Like any time of year, taking good pictures in winter does involve some planning. If snow is forecast overnight, it could be worth an early start the following morning. If you’re lucky, it will be bright and sunny and you’ll get shots of the landscape before the snow starts to melt or gets covered in footprints. With this in mind, be sure to check the weather forecast the night before.

Make sure you charge up your batteries too, as cold weather can reduce battery performance. Likewise, we’d advise you to leave your camera (minus the battery) by the front door – this tends to be the coldest part of the house and makes it less likely for your gear to mist up due to a change in temperature when you get outside. Buying an extra battery would be a good idea, especially if you plan to be out and about for a while, plus be sure to pack a warm drink for yourself, in addition to making sure you have plenty of warm clothing. Oh, and make sure you put the battery back in the camera before you leave!

Once you’ve set foot outdoors, there will be plenty of photo opportunities to capture – these images above should give you some pointers. As well as going for the obvious landscape shots, look for more abstract images as well as close-up and detail pictures.

Most X-series cameras offer a preset Snow program mode, which should be your first port of call if you want to get great results quickly. To take more control, use exposure compensation to make sure the white snow comes out white. Select +1 in overcast conditions and +2 in sunny conditions to avoid underexposure.

While we’re sure you’ll make every effort to keep snow and moisture away from your X-series camera while you’re out, if it does get dropped in the white stuff or picks up moisture, place it in a plastic bag with a few sachets of silica gel when you get home. Put them in a warm (not hot) place for a day or two and it should clear up.

Shoot a 365 project

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Lots of photographers traditionally start a 365 project at this time of year. The premise is simple: take one picture a day for a whole year. It sounds simple enough, but it will give both you and your photography a real challenge. To add extra spice, you could insist on using just one feature, lens or function on your X-series camera!

Fun of the fair

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Funfairs spring up in towns during the festive period and you can use them to create eye-catching long exposure images. You’ll need a solid tripod and a low ISO (100 or 200), then select a long shutter speed of around four seconds and fire away. Alternatively, try your camera’s Night Portrait exposure mode and get a low light portrait.

Feathered friends

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In colder weather, food becomes more scarce for birds. Attract them to your garden by offering a regular supply of nuts, suet balls and fruit. They’ll keep coming back once they know food is on tap, giving you the chance to photograph them. The XF55-200mm or XC50-230mm lens would be perfect to get in close.

Church interiors

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Interiors of churches and cathedrals provide a plethora of photo opportunities. Head to one on an overcast day to avoid strong contrast between light and dark areas and try a range of shots including majestic wide-angle images. Set your X-series camera’s Dynamic Range to DR400 to maximise highlight and shadow detail.

Creative candles

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Warm up those winter shots with a candle. Whether on their own or in groups they make perfect subjects. Combined with a face, they make great portraits, too. Increase the ISO on your X-series camera to avoid the flash firing, which will spoil the effect of the ambient light. Leave the white-balance on Auto to retain a warming glow.

Guest post: Tips on candid photography at parties

Professional wedding photographer Kevin Mullins has a couple of tips for shooting candid photos of parties:

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Get In close… it is a party after all!
You don’t need to stand in the corner of a room with a 200mm lens to be unobtrusive. Get a short lens, get in close, mingle and be part of the environment you are shooting. You will get more natural and creative images without the subjects feeling.

Bide your time
The scene in front of you is the stage, and the characters are the actors. Let them act out the play naturally, wait, bide your time and the images will come. Don’t contrive or force the pictures.

“Auto” is your friend
Set your camera up so all you have to do is concentrate on the moment. I shoot parties in Aperture Priority Mode and with Auto-ISO set to 6,400 and a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 (you X-Pro1 users can’t complain about not having that after the firmware update on the 19th December!).

Pick a spot to manually focus on and wait for the action to come to you
Use Manual Focus if necessary when in a dark environment – focus on a spot on the floor or something with enough contrast and wait for the action to happen.

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Bring your own light
Use an external flash (I use the EF-X20) as the slave, hand hold it above your head and move around with freedom. You can direct the light so easily using this flash so when the light at the party does get too low it won’t stop you shooting away. The key thing is be in the mix, especially on the dance floor. Everyone will face in, and you need be on the dance floor getting those shots. You will find it difficult with a long zoom so stick with a 14, 18 or 23mm lens for optimum shooting. And Happy Christmas!

About Kevin

Kevin Mullins is an award winning UK Wedding Photographer specialising in the documentary style of wedding photography. To see more of his work you can follow him on Facebook or follow his blog.

Tips on shooting in the winter

By David Cleland

Winter is a great season for photography and it is always worth forcing yourself to think differently. In my opinion, winter landscapes can be more about the narrative of the image than the technical aspects of the shot.

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1. Visit your Favourite Locations in the Snow

When the Snow descends, think of the already beautiful locations you know and pay them a visit. This is a photograph Hillsborough Church, Co Down transformed under a blanket of snow. It also should be noted that you don’t have to shoot with a wide-angle lens to capture landscape images as this photo was shot at around 75mm.

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2. Use the Evening or morning light.

The sun is lower in winter and can cast long shadows or create a warm winter glows (especially in the evening). This image was shot using the X20 camera on a cold day in December on Tyrella Beach, County Down. On visiting my local beach during a winter weekend I discovered a range of activities I wasn’t expecting.

My advice is to pack a camera and head for the coast on a day that it would be the last place you would think of visiting as it might amaze you what you will find.

For low light photography you might need to increase your ISO, the Fujifilm range offer a capped auto ISO mode which can be very handy for outdoor photography during the winter months.  I tend to shoot auto ISO capped at 3200.

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3.  Use Winter to create dramatic scenes

The winter season can really create as sense of drama. This old ruin in County Donegal is made even scarier by the cold winter mountains in the background and the use of long exposure photography to make the sky even more dramatic.

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4. Shoot what you would tell people

During April, Northern Ireland saw the largest snow fall in decades. Roads were closed for days and the countryside was transformed to pure white. I took this shot with the X100s to document the level of the snow against some farm fencing. It wasn’t overly interesting at the time but as we look back it is great to have photos of just how much snow had fallen.  Close up shots against the reflecting snow can be a challenge, using ‘Spot metering’ can bring the clarity and detail to your main subject.

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5. Shoot Contrasting Landscapes

It can be great to head out on a sunny day after a snowfall. This image was shot with the X100s on the Murlough Bay path (County Down).  It was sunny which created an interesting contrast against the snow-covered Mourne Mountains.

The trick is to have a camera with you on your winter adventures so you document what you discover. I tend to pack the X100s wherever we go and it is amazing just how many images I managed to capture on days when photography was the least of my objectives.

About David

David Cleland is a documentary and landscape photography from Ireland. To see more of his work you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe to his blog.